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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ann-Marie Meyers: Up in the Air + Patriotic Courage in the Face of Helplessness--A True Story

Hello Everyone! Today is the day before Independence Day so check out my true story of patriotism in the face of helplessness below! Meanwhile, please welcome Ann Marie Meyers to the blog. Her first novel, Up in the Air releases July 6. She's here to talk about finding your target audience. Make sure to click on the link below that to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway. Then check out my review of her book below. 

Ann Marie Meyers grew up in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. She has a degree in languages and translates legal and technical documents from French and Spanish into English. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and super energetic daughter. Meyers is an active member of SCBWI and facilitates a children's writing group twice a month. Welcome, Ann Marie!

Finding my Target Audience `

I love fantasy. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t; well not after I turned 13, that is. I remember practically devouring all kinds of novels with fantasy, and even sci-fi elements, starting with Lord of the Rings and moving on to C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series and Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials.

I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why I was eventually drawn towards the idea of writing books of fantasy. And with the birth of my daughter, I started tapering these stories to a younger age, with the hope in mind that one day she would read them.

I think I’m lucky that nowadays, the world is open to fantasy. We, as a society, are willing to embrace the possible, the probable and especially the unbelievable. The number of fantasy and sci-fi books and movies for both children and adults attest to this.

From where I stand, I believe that my target audience is widespread. The challenge though is to come up with ideas that have not been beaten to death. Of course, as I’ve been told repeatedly, there are only so many original ideas out there, and it is the way we approach them in story form that makes them different, even unique.

I’m not sure that I fully believe the part about there being a limited number of ideas. It is true though that there are many variations on the same theme. I strive to be original, but more importantly, my desire is to create a story, with characters whom readers can identify with, involved in situations and drama that speak to me on many levels.

If I feel passionate about my book, then chances are that others will too, even if it’s an idea that has been done before. And, if I feel lukewarm about an idea, even though it’s original, so will the reader.

I am also lucky to have a daughter who is the age of my target audience. If my manuscript holds her attention and makes her want to stay up on a school night, rubbing her eyes in exhaustion, demanding that I read ‘just one more chapter, please Mommy,” then I know I’m on to something. If, on the other hand, she turns her back to me and starts to fake snore, then I’ve got some major revisions to do.

One thing I continue to do is to read voraciously, especially children’s books. This keeps me in tune with the evolving faces of kids, especially nowadays when technology (computers, video games, apps, iPods, iPads, etc.) has helped push them to the next level and above.

The thing is that although issues and situations differ today, the emotions surrounding our reaction to them pretty much remain constant. All I can hope for is that the stories I write will resonate with my target audience on multiple levels.

That said, I believe that if I continue to write from the heart and trust my gut, then my books will (hopefully) reach the people (kids and adults) they are intended for.

 Thanks Ann Marie! What great advice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Review of Up in the Air

Up in the Air is a middle-grade fantasy about a girl named Melody who's always dreamed of being able to fly. This is the story of her getting that wish. Of course, it's not as easy as all that. She's magically transported to the world of Chimeroan where she can get her wish, but only after completing several difficult tasks and learning a lot about herself. Melody has to come to terms with a lot of things that have happened in her life before she can return to it.

Now, all of you know that middle grade and YA novels aren't my favorite because they often don't have as high of stakes as I prefer, but every once in a while you get something fun and magical that's a delight to read. Up in the Air is that book. I read it in two days without breaking a sweat. It just flows so well and is such a fun, touching story. Despite being a middle-grade, it actually deals with some fairly deep psychological issues. Melody has a lot of guilt surrounding an accident that both she and her father were involved in. I really liked this aspect of the book. While fun, light, everyday-problems-at-school type books are great for kids, I think sometimes we underestimate them. Plenty of kids have to deal with grown-up issues and I think for them to see someone their own age work through those kinds of problems is a good thing. Futhermore, Meyers presents them in such a sweet, delicate way as to feel natural and honest and perfectly understandable for this age group.

Besides all this, this story is so much fun! It had very much the feel of The Neverending Story (except it was a much easier, more flowing read than that book was). You know, a child on a quest who happens to discover themselves and learn a lot about how they are along the way. 

Overall, this story was great. So fun and poignant. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to children and adults alike.

Make sure and check out Up in the Air at the following links:
B& N:

You can also find Ann Marie at the links below:
Her Website

Patriotic Courage in the Face of Helplessness

So this is the week we will celebrate the birth of our country and the glory it has been since its inception. I come from a very patriotic family. My great-grandfathers on both sides fought on World War II and I have had lots of family in the military since then as well. So, in celebration, many of my posts this week will have a patriotic bent, and I may start out each one with a true story about the patriots in my family, or just a patriotic story in general.

I know today is the day I usually focus on crime, but because Independence Day is this week, and patriotism is historical by nature, I'll be focusing almost exclusively on history this week. Crime tidbits will return next week. :D

Today's story is one that I tell a lot. I may have told it before on the blog, but I looked back through and couldn't find specifically where. It's a great story, though.

My maternal great-grandfather, Alwyn Dickens Conger fought in World War II. One day, he and a small battalion of men were traveling through the German countryside, on their way to report for their next assignment. They came upon a primitive German village, occupied by German soldiers. Normally, they would have travelled wide of the village to avoid detection, but upon observing the village from a distance, they could see that the ignorant villagers were being cruelly exploited by the occupying forces. 

My grandfather's group radioed their superiors, requesting backup so they could go into the village and help the people. Their request was denied. Not only was their no backup to send, but for just their small battalion to go in would be suicide. The state of the villagers was regrettable, but couldn't be helped at present. 

Now, the Conger side of my family is known for their downright stubbornness. Obviously, Alwyn Dickens was no exception. He wouldn't accept the idea of leaving the villagers to such a horrible fate. Instead, he sneaked into the village. He risked both death and court martial by doing so, and none of the other American soldiers would go with him. He slipped through the village in broad daylight, made his way to the command tent, and took the camp commander hostage. After tying him up, he got on the loud speaker--just two megaphones mounted on the command tent, I think--and announced that the U.S. army had arrived, had the commander, and was about to take the village.

All the German soldiers grabbed what they could and hightailed it out of there. They didn't want to become POWs, so they fled. Meanwhile, the rest of my grandfather's squadron came in, comforted the people, and secured the village. My grandfather did that all by himself, simply because he couldn't stand to see evil in the world and not lift a hand to stop it. He was a remarkable man.

How about you? Do you have any cool family war stories?


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Liesel

    1. No problem, Ann Marie. Thanks for allowing me to participate in your tour!

  2. So nice to meet Anne Marie-- sending you all sorts of success wishes. I think you nailed it when you said "write from the gut and follow my heart". In the end, rules of writing aside, that's what really draws a reader into a story and your story sounds like just the kind that will do that.